The Correction

I will be halting my coverage of ET for a while. I have come to this decision for two reasons.

First, I have a major correction to make to a previous installment. In the ET on Chesapeake Bay post I had referred to Chaplain Junkin and to his being on the Maryland on the trip that the 8th MVM took down the Chesapeake.  It was a mystery that cropped up when I first recorded the events in my research. Certain accounts written by the midshipmen at the academy seemed to have placed Junkin aboard the Maryland at this time. I went with this understanding when I wrote that segment. But I had forgotten that not everything about the accounts lined up.  It was only through further research that I found accounts about Junkin that placed him on another vessel two days after the events I was recording. So back then I had solved this problem, but when it came to write about it recently, I had forgotten this fact, mostly because I have these events chronicled further down the timeline of my notes. So please consider it as corrected. I need to be more deliberate in my writings on this topic, so it may be better served to go with my original plan, writing a book about this historic time.

Second, I need to cut back my posts to once a week instead of twice, for I need the time to concentrate my writing efforts on a series of goals that I have set for myself for this next year. I plan to push to completion a play that I have been working on for some time, and ditto for a musical.  All of this and a spec screenplay to boot.

I may include a few status posts for these projects, and I may post my fourth screenplay in serial form, (a good portion of which came out of my research into these early events of the Civil War).

So stay tuned and Watch This Space.

ET and Old Ironsides

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When E T and the other soldiers awoke in the morning, most were unaware of what had transpired in the wee hours.  General Butler and his officers had been on the alert the whole time.  They had walked a tight rope. They didn’t know what to expect from the authorities ashore, both at the Naval Academy, nor of the civilian ones in Annapolis itself. It was a slave state after all, and hence held strong political and emotional ties to the seceded states.  And as the state’s major city Baltimore, had proved willing to resist the decisions of the Federal government, they were not sure which way this cat was going to jump.

On the other side of the coin, Captain George S. Blake, the Superintendent of the Naval Academy was himself convinced that the vessel off his station, having been observed descending from the direction of Baltimore, was filled with hostile elements bent on seizing the installation, its stores and weapons. Also at risk was the United States Frigate Constitution, posted here since September of the preceding year as a school-ship. Blake had orders from the Secretary of the Navy to defend her, or failing that, destroy her. To that end a sailor was kept in the hold of Old Ironsides, prepared to set a match to the 60,000 pounds of gunpowder stowed below.

In truth, both were men on the same side, yet neither knew. Both sides sent out feelers, that passed each other in the murk, and more misunderstandings ensued. By the first light of day, the two parties finally cleared things up. Both sides were going to get what they wanted. General Butler had a place to land his troops, the necessary next step on his march to Washington, and Captain Blake would get men to help defend the grounds, and most important of all, personnel to help man the Constitution.

Most of the Marines assigned to the Academy had been ordered to other stations prior to this.  Blake asked Butler if he could assign some men as a marine guard for the Constitution. Butler chose the Salem Zouaves and ordered them to transfer to the ship. He also put a call out for men who knew their way around a sailing vessel, a request easily fielded by companies recruited from the seacoast of Massachusetts.

So the soldiers made their preparations and breakfasted on whatever rations were left. And the Maryland came alongside the man of war.  And so E T stepped from one deck to another and became a marine for a time, serving on the historic and oldest vessel in the US Navy.

 

ET on the Chesapeake

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So the Maryland and the 8th regiment MVM had cast off into the night and the unknown. An hour into their trip, they ate from their rations that had been issued in Philadelphia.  But before that the captains ordered their soldiers to discharge their weapons over the side into the water, a wise precaution to guard against any tragic accidents.

All except two of the weapons. There were civilians that had talked their way aboard the vessel, and General Butler had decided that it would be best to mount a two man guard over the one boat that the Maryland carried, to prevent a traitor from stealing it and reporting their whereabouts to any hostile forces ashore.

In my research I have run across accounts that claim that Andrew Carnegie also was aboard the Maryland on this trip. I am not fully convinced that he was. The future steel magnate and philanthropist, did travel via the Maryland when called to Washington to help form the Telegraph Corps. But communications signed by him seem to indicate that he was in Altoona, PA at this date. (I hope to be able to clarify everything in a future history).

One individual that I have identified with certainty who was on the Maryland at this time was David X Junkin, the then current chaplain at the Naval Academy.  He was returning from a trip north. His presence would prove fortunate for all of them.

With more than 800 members of the regiment, plus scads of other people, it all came down to one’s awareness, and it was pretty much limited by each groups’ familiarity within their own unit. With their supper eaten and weapons discharged, they settled in for the night. They bedded down on both the upper and lower decks to get much needed sleep before their arrival at Annapolis.

When they arrived off Annapolis at 2am, the officers let the men sleep on, and ordered the ship hove to, and awaited the dawn. Though with the coming of the light, the fog of war settled in with a vengeance, obscuring the true nature of the two forces opposing one another.

ET Storms Perryville

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After the regiment had gathered at the station at 11, it was still another four hours before the train set out. The fog of war was in full swing by the time they left.  Caution was the watchword, so they stopped frequently to collect intelligence.  But they encountered only rumors at every stop.  While in Philadelphia, Colonel Lefferts of the 7th NY had heard that the railroad ferryboat Maryland was seized and destroyed.  Butler had heard the same thing but didn’t give it credence.  And thousands were feared to be gathering in Perryville to oppose them.

Butler carried with him permission to seize the ferryboat if necessary, or destroy it if he deemed it more prudent.  Butler toured the cars and saw to it personally that the soldiers loaded their weapons.  He let it be known that they may very well suffer many casualties.  He encouraged letters be written home and left with the conductor to be forwarded.

At one point, Butler ordered the train to proceed at top speed (30 mph).  And soon after came the cry of “Man Overboard.”  One of the men had become so frightened that he leapt from the speeding train.  He had stripped off his coat and shirt, and fled only in his trousers and shoes.  Not wanting to delay after an attempt to retrieve him, Butler posted a reward, and pushed on.  By this, the men learned for the first time their destination – Annapolis, for it was there that the reward would be collected.

An half mile out of Perryville, they stopped and detrained.  The zouaves deployed first, the sappers and miners behind them, and Company K to provide cover. Captain Devereux ordered his men at the double quick not waiting for the rest of the regiment.

What crowd there was in the sleepy town dispersed  at the sight of the armed men.  There was no opposition as they stormed aboard the Maryland. Nothing was prepared for them, the ferryboat was out of fuel and water and had no engine crew.  The regiment pushed four coal cars aboard, added water to nearby empty whiskey barrels and fielded a crew of twenty from their members.  It took two hours to accomplish these tasks and to load their baggage.

By 6pm they were ready to depart, and cast off for Annapolis.  The boat’s captain and pilot were the only employees of the railroad aboard.  Neither of them seemed friendly or helpful. So their loyalty was suspect.

It was fine night for April, but soon got very dark.

ET waits on his Leaders

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The 8th had learned that their sister regiment, the Sixth, had been bloodied in the streets of Baltimore.  It was April the 19th 1861. The fact of this historic date was not lost upon these soldiers from Massachusetts. It was the 86th anniversary of the battles of Lexington and Concord and was usually celebrated in remembrance as the “shot heard around the world.” Just as their forefathers had faced a dire situation, so too were they now. ET and his fellow soldiers were waiting in the Girard House (a hotel) for the decision of their leaders.  Many spent their time writing home, telling their folks about where they were and what they’d seen.

That evening, General Butler gathered his staff at the Continental Hotel to discuss their next movement.  The only one of the company captains to attend was Devereux of the Zouaves.  Were they going to fight their way through Baltimore or was there another way?

Many claim to have come up with the winning solution (an interesting history can be written about these claims).  But the only one who truly matters is Samuel Morse Felton, the president of the PWB Railroad (Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore). He offered to Butler the ferry boat owned by his railroad that operated between Perryville and Havre de Grace, MD. Instead of traversing to the latter city, they could travel down the Chesapeake to Annapolis and from there march to Washington, bypassing Baltimore altogether.

So this plan was settled upon and other decisions flowed from that. The Zouaves were to lead the assault into Perryville; backed up by Company K; and a special unit, called Miners and Sappers, was formed from volunteers from the other companies, and issued axes, crowbars, and picks. Their task was to remove any obstacles thrown up in front of them.  Butler sent a telegram to Governor Andrew informing him of their plans and to request that Cook’s flying artillery be sent on immediately, for he judged that they would be needing more firepower.

Devereux and the captain of the Allen Guard took their companies to the Broad Street station (for the PWB RR), arriving there at 2 am, the morning of April 20. There they found the 7th NYNG regiment already aboard the cars. And waited.

Butler met with Colonel Lefferts of the 7th NY and tried all morning long to convince him to accompany his regiment, even to the extent of pulling rank. But Lefferts ultimately refused, and removed his men from the cars for he had decided to take ship from Philadelphia to go around by water to Washington.  There was an unspoken rivalry between the two as to who would reach Washington first.

The rest of the 8th regiment finally joined the Zouaves and Company K at the station around 11 am.  And together they set off into the unknown future.

ET in the City of Brotherly Love

ET in the City of Brotherly Love

From Jersey City, the 8th MVM boarded the cars of the Camden and Amboy railroad. The officers passed through the cars, inspecting the men and their weapons. And admonished them to be prepared.  Along the route, people took impromptu holidays from their work to throng the stations to greet them and see them on their way.
At 5 pm they arrived in Camden and there boarded the ferry to Philadelphia.
When the ferry docked the crowd was so heavy that even the police could not clear a path for the regiment.  The crowd overflowed onto the tops of the buildings lining the streets. The soldiers could only make their way single file through the welcoming crush.
The people of Philadelphia were particularly glad to see the boys from Massachusetts because the news out of Baltimore was very scary. The Sixth regiment MVM had passed through Philadelphia the day before (one day in advance of the 8th).  So at the time that the 8th was in New York and New Jersey, the Sixth was attempting to pass through Baltimore from one station on the east side to the B & O RR on the west.  In the midst of their advance some street toughs with Southern sympathies assaulted them with rocks  and brickbats. When the dust cleared four soldiers of the Sixth lay dead.
And the mayor of Baltimore consequently ordered that the city be closed to the further passage of troops.  Zealots from Baltimore taking that cue went out and burned the railroad bridges leading to the city.
What was General Butler and the 8th going to do?

E T Hits the Big Apple

E T hits the Big Apple

A note about railroads of the period – they were wide-spread, especially east of the Mississippi, and the war would develop them further when their strategic uses were realized. But they were usually just lines between two cities, you would come in on one line to a terminal, cross the city on foot or some other conveyance to another station and then take another line to your next destination. It is this distinction that when grasped will go a long way in understanding how the events unfolded as they did.
E T and the Eighth regiment MVM left Boston from the Worcester station. They passed through Worcester, then on to Springfield. There one more company met up with the regiment – the Allen Guard of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. They had come in on another train. The Allen Guard became Company K, assigned to lead the left flank of the regiment.
It was after 10 o’clock at night when the now completed regiment departed Springfield for New York City.   They travelled the entire night; a long sleepless night.
They arrived around 7am at the New York and New Haven depot at the corner of Fourth Avenue and 26th Street. It was another whirlwind, with no time to take in the sights. The local hotels feted them with breakfast, (the Zouaves were the guests of the famous Astor Hotel). By 11am the regiment had reassembled in City Hall Park and marched from there through crowds of well-wishers to Courtlandt Street. At the river they caught the ferry to Jersey City.
The rumors about what lay ahead were growing.

ET was an Orphan

ET may have left home, but Salem was a recent residence and it had not been “home” for all that long.  Danvers was his most recent abode as mentioned before, according to the 1860 federal census, but it is difficult to know how long he had lived there, though I do have a clue.  I just recently discovered that he was an orphan, and would have been since his mother died in 1853 when he was just thirteen. At the time of the 1850 census he was living in Roxbury, Massachusetts, with his mother and her second husband Calvin Gilson.  His step-father re-married in 1858, so I am guessing that he was apprenticed to the cordwainer in Danvers sometime soon after that.  His mother had married Mr Gilson in 1848, three years after his father had passed away (I’m going to save the topic of his father for another day).
So arriving in Boston, he was not only returning to the place of his birth, but he was also nearby to Roxbury, the place of his formative years.  Though I am sure, those days to him belonged to the past; he had the excitement of the future before him.
Most of the 8th regiment had already reported, all of its companies so far were from Essex County. The SLI marched to the State House and there received overcoats and knapsacks. (ET and the rest of the recruits did not have uniforms. The only thing “uniform” about them would be these items).
While here in Boston the company performed various drills for the curious public.  As a result, the newspapers from this time forward would celebrate them as “The Salem Zouaves.”
They took their noon meal with the rest of the regiment and later received their standard from the Governor.
At five o’clock in the afternoon, after a light supper they “took the cars” to Washington DC with Brigadier General B F Butler in command.  It was April 18, 1861.

E T Leaves Home

E T Leaves Home

So, E T signed up on April 15th, but that did not mean that he and the SLI would be going out right away.  The President’s call was in effect, but it was up to the Governor of the state, in this case, Republican John Andrew, as to which regiments would be filling the state’s quota.

And the decision was in, the regiments being called up were the Third, the Fourth, the Sixth and the Eighth. The Salem Light Infantry was company A of the Seventh Regiment, and hence not slated to go. But there were certain factors in play behind the scenes.  The governor had been a guest of the Salem Company at an exhibition in the beginning of the month, and was impressed.  And Captain Devereux wanted his company to go, if it had the honor of being the “right-flank company of skirmishers,” the “point of the spear” in today’s parlance.  And the Eighth regiment was undermanned.
Besides this the governor was also stewing over another decision – who to send out as the brigadier general in charge of the Massachusetts troops. He really did not want to send the most obvious choice Benjamin F Butler. It was a trust issue. In the last election Butler, a Democrat, had supported the Breckinridge faction of that party, the very ones who were now pointing their weapons at Lincoln in Washington DC.
In Salem, through the 16th and 17th, time was spent in preparations and awaiting the governor’s decision. And the order came on the 17th, the Governor acceded to the Captain and that is how the SLI went out as Company J of the 8th regiment MVM, the brigade under the overall command of Brig. Gen. Benjamin F Butler. On that same evening, E T and 29 other recruits were voted into the company.
The next morning, the 18th, the SLI was mobbed by well-wishers at the armory. From there they had to push their way through the crowd to the train station, giving a “seven cheer” to one and all. (The “seven cheer” like the Rangers’ “Hooah” went like this. A count from one to seven, followed by the words “Tiger,” then “Zouave,” and then the object of their cheer).
And the first movement was to Boston where all the companies of the 8th were to rendezvous.

E T was a Zouave

ET was a Zouave

I remember seeing the word Zouave in the ending credits to the Danny Kaye comedy The Court Jester. The marching knights in that film were listed as the Jackson Michigan Zouave Drill Team.  They performed a very close formation drill. I recall a lot of stomping. (Loved the film, by the way – “the poison is in the vessel with the pestle…”).

A check with a dictionary described Zouave as a name for a French Algerian infantry unit, known for their colorful uniforms, a swinging stride, close order drill and unorthodox field tactics (i.e. forming themselves into pyramids to scale walls).  They came to notoriety in reports of their exploits in the Crimean War in the mid 1850s.
All these things being asides and context, another volume from ILL came and with it I got down to particulars. It was the history of the Salem Light Infantry, its story from inception to 1890.  It all began in 1805.  Civic minded men (exclusively of the Federalist Party) from the Salem community offered themselves in service by forming a militia company. They were just in time for the War of 1812. Most of the action however for this region took place at sea, but with the constant pressure of the British fleet offshore and their threats of invasion, the SLI was kept busy answering the night alarms. They were ready if the British showed their faces.
A run through the accompanying rosters turned up many names of Salem families: Derby, Lander, Peabody, Endicott, Devereux and yes Osgood, (and of later interest upon other discoveries – the name of Orne).
Over the years they did service in many ways: honor guards for important dignitaries such as Lafayette, Presidents Monroe, Jackson and Polk; annual training in summer musters in the field; and a constant round of entertaining and being entertained by other militia companies.
In February of 1860, a new captain was elected for the company.  He was Arthur F Devereux, just recently returned from Chicago. He had been a patent lawyer out there, in partnership with Elmer Ellsworth. Their business failed, but their side passion, involvement in the local militia group, excited the nation when they introduced the Zouave drill there.
And that is what Captain Devereux brought back with him to his home town. So by the time a year had rolled by the company was schooled in the Zouave way and was probably the best prepared company in the Massachusetts militia.
E. T. enlisted in the Salem Zouaves on Monday April 15th 1861, three days after Fort Sumter was fired upon, and the day that President Lincoln had issued his proclamation calling for the state militias to come to the aid of the capital and to put down the rebellion.